In the novel “Summons from the Creator” by Priya Sidharth Sethi, the protagonist Ameeya Ghosh has been having recurrent dreams, and what she seeks as a cure to her recurrent dreams turns out to be even more terrifying.
As Ameeya unravels the dark shadows lurking her own past, this leads her to the Creator himself with questions about her existence.
Will Ameeya follow the Creator’s orders to get rid of her demons by taking tough life decisions? Will this quest answer her existential questions? Read this gripping novel to find out.
Read an excerpt from the book below.
Bandra, one of the posh localities of Mumbai, was known to be the abode of celebrities. And where there is money and fame, there sure will be secrecy. Hidden in the plush condos of high rise buildings are the secrets about prosperity, health, relationships, family issues and many other unspeakable secrets. One such wealthy and famous family planned meticulously a strategy to hide their daughter’s secret.
Utkarsha Vashisht was an aspiring actor, following in the footsteps of her mother Prerna Vashisht, a successful mainstream actor of her time. Utkarsha was a dutiful daughter who blindly followed all the instructions of her mother when it came to the profession she badly wanted to succeed in. Little did it dawn upon her that she should have applied her own mind too before giving in to all the demands of her producer, who promised her a meaty role of the leading lady.
Today, after five months, she stood in front of her mother, with a full-grown stomach. It was the result of giving her producer what he wanted. On another Tuesday like this, five months back, she had stood in front of her mother and told her that she was four months pregnant. All hell broke loose as Prerna screamed at the top of her voice in complete annoyance at the stupidity of her daughter. Nothing could be done at that stage. The doctors advised them against an abortion. What to do now was the big question in Prerna’s head. While she sat in her bedroom without showing the slightest sympathy towards her dumb daughter, her house help entered with her regular glass of red wine.
‘Madam, shall I keep the glass here?’ she asked.
‘Hmmm,’ was Prerna’s short reply as she was busy thinking of a solution to hide her daughter’s dirty secret. Taking one long drag of her cigarette, she saw the maid still standing there.
‘What is it, Chaya?’ she asked.
‘Madam, chutti chahiye tha.’
‘Why?’ ‘My brother’s wife delivered a baby girl yesterday at my house. She needs help.’
At that very moment, a bell rang in Prerna’s mind. The plan was made. She decided to hide her secret in one of the dirty lanes of Dharavi, one of the biggest slums on Earth. Of course, everything had a price tag, and so did her maid’s tiny tin shack in Dharavi. Next week, early one morning, Chaya left with Utkarsha and a heavy handbag stuffed with cash to Utkarsha’s new home for the next five months. For the rest of the world, she was in New York, pursuing a six-month course in acting.
Today, there was a reason why Utkarsha stood in front of her mother. After almost five months, she had come to meet her daughter at three o’clock at night, secretly in that flimsy shed, carrying a similar handbag stuffed with cash. Things had to be decided fast. Utkarsha would deliver anytime now, and it was decided shewould not be shown her baby. Chaya and her husband had begged Prerna to allow the mother to be with the child for at least a month. But Prerna had made her decision. Chaya’s husband, Krishna, a watchman working in Andheri, had an idea when Prerna racked her brains about her future course of action.
‘Madam, near the building where I work, there is an orphanage called ‘Panaah’. Why don’t we admit the baby there?’
‘Admit? Are you nuts? You want to create an official record of this illegitimate child, which will ruin my daughter’s career before it starts? Just drop the baby at the doorstep once it is born.’
‘But, Madam, such a small child…how will it survive?’ asked Chaya with concern.
‘Depends on the kid’s destiny. If the baby is meant to live, it will. Just do as I say. And keep in mind, whoever goes there should not be seen by a soul. Clear?’
‘You shut up. Just deliver the child and come home after a month, and in shape. You get it…IN SHAPE…there is a lot of money running on your waistline. I want it the way it was. Follow the instructions of your dietician. And Chaya, you have the diet chart with you right?’
Within no time, Prerna left, without looking even once at her weeping daughter. Within a week, Utkarsha went into labour and delivered a baby boy, in the same shed in Dharavi. As decided, she was not shown the baby. Chaya held the newborn while Krishna looked on,
‘Look at this tiny baby; he looks weird, doesn’t he?’
‘Hmm, it’s because of this birthmark that he has.’
‘I think I will go tonight to Panaah and leave him there. I don’t want to attract the attention of the neighbours with this baby’s cries.’
‘My God, I feel like we are doing the most cruel thing ever,’ said Chaya.
‘Don’t think, Chaya, we already have five mouths to feed, just look at the cash this boy has brought in our lives. And rest assured, I am sure that lady in Panaah will look after this child. She is a kind and generous lady. I have seen her orphanage grow over the past eight years.’
In the wee hours of the morning, ignoring Utkarsha’s request to see the baby at least once, Krishna carried him wrapped in an old cotton cloth. He waited at Panaah’s doorstep till six in the morning, which was a safe time to leave the child. He was sure somebody would open the door at six. He rang the bell twice, kept the sleeping baby on the floor and waited to hear footsteps. As the sound became louder, he made a quick exit and hid behind a bush to be doubly sure that the baby was taken in.
A lady in a yellow cotton sari, half sleepy, opened the door and looked around to find no one. Krishna was cursing himself when she was about to close the door without noticing the baby. And suddenly, they both were startled by the infant’s cry. Krishna thanked God as the lady picked the crying infant. She looked around for somebody, but after five minutes of waiting and looking around, she took him inside. Krishna was relieved, he blessed the lady, the owner of Panaah, and went on to his duty at the nearby building.What he and the lady did not know was how much the baby was thanking them for putting him in Panaah. Half the baby’s job was done. Now he had to somehow meet Ameeya.
And he did…it was the Creator’s plan after all.
Excerpted with permission from Summons from the Creator, Priya Sidharth Sethi, Locksley Hall Publishing. Read more about the book and buy it here.